(1450) Solar - Becker
The desert is butch, she dismisses your illusions
about what might do to make your life
work better, she stares you down and doesn't say
a word about your past. She brings you a thousand days,
a thousand suns effortlessly each morning rising.
She lets you think what you want all afternoon.
Rain walks across her mesa, red-tailed hawks
writhe in fields of air, she lets you look at her.
She laughs at your study habits, your orderly house,
your need to name her "vainest woman you've ever met."
Then she turns you toward the voluptuous valleys,
she gives you dreams of green forests,
she doesn't care who else you love.
She sings in the grass, the sagebrush, the small trees
struggling and the tiny lizards scrambling
up the walls. You find her when you're ready
in the barbed wire and fence posts, on the scrub where you walk
with your parched story, where she walks, spendthrift,
tossing up sunflowers, throwing her indifferent
shadow across the mountain. Haven't you guessed?
She's the loneliest woman alive but that's her gift;
she makes you love your own loneliness,
the gates to darkness and memory. She is your best, indifferent
teacher, she knows you don't mean what you say.
She flings aside your technical equipment,
she requires you to survive in her high country
like the patient sheep and cattle who graze and take her
into their bodies. She says lightning, and
get used to it. Her storms are great moments
in the history of American weather, her rain remakes the world,
while your emotional life is run-off from a tin roof.
Like the painted clown at Picuris Pueblo
who started up the pole and then dropped into the crowd,
anonymous, she paws the ground, she gallops past.
What can you trust? This opening, this returning,
this arroyo, this struck gong inside your chest?
She wants you to stay open like the hibiscus
that opens its orange petals for a single day.
At night, a fool, you stand on the chilly mesa,
split open like the great cleft of the Rio Grande Gorge,
trying to catch a glimpse of her, your new, long-term companion.
She gives you a sliver of moon, howl of a distant dog,
windy premonition of winter.
- Robin Becker
Bio from: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poet.html?id=431
Robin Becker grew up in Philadelphia, studied and taught in Boston, and returned to Pennsylvania in 1993 to teach at Pennsylvania State University. Becker, who also teaches workshops at the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown, finds the teaching life compatible with her life as a poet.
Critic Enid Shomer described Becker's 2000 collection of poems, The Horse Fair, as a "vibrant miscellany." Her poems reflect her Russian-Jewish heritage and lesbianism, her interest in art history and art, and the experience of growing up in 1950s America. In The Horse Fair, her subjects range from the painter Rosa Bonheur to the Torah and personal tragedies. Poet Kathleen Aguero has said that Becker's poems are "richly populated by friends, lovers, family" as they "chronicle a search for community."
Becker grew up listening to her grandmother's stories, learning from her the nuances of storytelling and her family's history in Ukraine. Becker was also greatly influenced by the women writers whose poetry was available in the 1970s, including Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Maxine Kumin, Denise Levertov, and Susan Griffin.
Becker is poetry editor for the Women's Review of Books. She has won fellowships from the Bunting Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her third collection of poems, All-American Girl, received the Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Poetry in 1997